Monday, March 7, 2011

Tomato Leaf Curling Virus, or Something Else? Wicking bed and watermelon success; floating raft trials.

The tomato bed has 5 tomato plants and two cucumber plants (and various herbs).  Three of the tomato plants produce cherry tomatoes, one is "yellow" (produces a small, completely yellow, and deliciously juicy tomato) and one produces a variety that I can best describe as "normal".  Of the three cherry tomato plants, one developed severe upwardly curled leaves all over the plant, pretty much "overnight" (though I am not 100% sure on that score since I didn't see it the day before). They are not only severely upwardly curled, but are also "collapsed" at the part where the leaf meets the stem.  The plant basically looks god-awful, no if's and's or but's.  The fruit however, doesn't look bad, except a lot of it has ripened pre-maturely.  Instead of "cherry" tomatoes, some of these are "red pea" tomatoes.  If you google "tomato leaf curl"  pictures, you'll see some that show a slight curl and some that show the leaf completely closed in on itself.  Mine are the completely closed in kind. 

In researching what this could be, I came up with two possibilities:

1)  Nutrient Deficiency
2)  Disease

I've ruled out #1 because it seems to make sense that anything caused by a nutrient deficiency would also affect the other plants, especially other plants of the same type - i.e., tomatoes.  In Aquaponics and hydroponics systems, all plants receive the same nutrient mix, all the time, so it just does not make sense to me for just one plant (out of a group of the same type) to suffer nutrient deficiency.  If anyone knows something to the contrary in this regard, do please let me know!

As for possibility #2, what I have been able to find is there is such a thing as Leaf Curl Virus, which can be transmitted by beatles, aphids, and other leaf-eating bugs.  It will not spread from plant to plant by contact or via the roots - it requires a leaf-sucking insect "vector" to transmit the disease.  For lack of other possibilities, and following the philosophy of "the simplest explanation is usually right", this is what I think affected this plant.

If so, this would be the best possible reason, given the circumstances.  Nutrient deficiency would mean something is severely lacking or unbalanced in my system, whereas this particular virus, which thankfully cannot spread very easily, can be taken care of by removing the plant.  There are no signs of aphids or leaf-eating bugs though, so I cannot be 100% sure.  Stems of affected plants appear healthy.  There is no discoloration inside stems that are cut open for inspection, that would indicate a fungal or root-born disease.   

Now, if any other plants come down with this, I'll have to go back and question my reasoning here, but for now, that's all I can conclude.

The radishes in wicking bed #1 are doing great.  It looks like they'll be ready to eat in a week or two.  I planted red onion and carrots in the larger wicking bed, as well as thee asparagus crowns I had planted in a dirt garden. 

The floating raft pots are 100% planted now (all 54 of them).  Beds 2 and 3 are full of brocoli, mustard, sweet peppers, and watermelon.  I am very doubtful as to the brocoli and mustard as the plants looked weak, long and spindly, but we'll see.  I've been surprised by how well some plants do when they are moved into an aquaponics system.  Raft 1 has everything I had planted before (lettuce, cabbage, spinach) plus I added three new yellow tomato plants.  Those yellow tomatoes are just too tasty and I want more of them.

Here's some video of this week's progress.  I spent a little too much time on the seed trays, especially since they were mostly a failure, so be forewarned!  The seed tray part is from the 49-second mark  to 3.26 if you want to skip ahead.

1 comment:

  1. Something I happened upon: